In a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times written by Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts, entitled “One Way to Rebuild Our Institutions,” she speaks the plain truth, and in so doing, shows us why many Americans are ready for a big change, and also why Bernie Sanders is attracting so much excitement.
She basically says the same thing that I said in my article “The Case for a Quantum Revolution: Flint, Michigan, American Fascism, and Domestic Terrorism.” And that is, corporate criminals need to go to jail when they do things that harm the greater good.
As Senator Warren said, “I just released a report examining 20 of the worst federal enforcement failures in 2015. Its conclusion: “Corporate criminals routinely escape meaningful prosecution for their misconduct.
“In a single year, in case after case, across many sectors of the economy, federal agencies caught big companies breaking the law — defrauding taxpayers, covering up deadly safety problems, even precipitating the financial collapse in 2008 — and let them off the hook with barely a slap on the wrist. Often, companies paid meager fines, which some will try to write off as a tax deduction.
“The failure to adequately punish big corporations or their executives when they break the law undermines the foundations of this great country. Justice cannot mean a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, but nothing more than a sideways glance at a C.E.O. who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars.”
Are we any better than the situation in Victor Hugo’s classic book Les Miserables, where the main character, Jean Valjean, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for stealing bread for his starving sister and her family? Meanwhile, people who commit greater crimes are given a slap on the wrist at best.
If CEO’s and top executives can get away with crimes that can cost hundreds of millions or billions of dollars and can harm large segments of the population, what does that say about a just society? And what does that tell these corporate criminals? They see there is no disincentive to act the way they do, and so they keep doing it.
This also explains the popularity of Senator Bernie Sanders, as he runs for President of the U.S. The first presidential primary for the 2016 election was just held in Iowa, and Bernie and Hillary Clinton ended up in a dead heat. Many people are excited by Bernie’s message, which is the same message that Elizabeth Warren is espousing: our system is crooked and it needs a major fix.
Here is the link to Elizabeth Warren’s article: One Way to Rebuild Our Institutions